Blog | Bogobrush


Earlier this month, John and I had the privilege of speaking to- and more importantly,with -100 high school students at the North Dakota Leadership Seminar, or NDLS. We invite you to check out our experiences and be inspired by the young people of a state that is often overlooked, our home state! As John said, “Look out world, ND is coming for you!”

 A Bit of Background

Each year, nearly 100 high schools from around the state nominate one sophomore student to attend NDLS, a weekend camp held at the University of Mary campus in Bismarck, ND. NDLS is designed to get the students away from familiar settings and social expectations, and into an energy-packed weekend where they are empowered by self-worth and their individual strengths to grow as leaders and to develop a strong community responsibility.

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Building Bridges – Not Just a Metaphor 

The weekend is full of diverse activities designed to provide an opportunity for a variety of leadership skills. The event John and I witnessed was a bridge building activity, where the students divided into 15 teams, designed, then built a bridge out of newspaper and masking tape. The requirements? A pitcher of water had to pass under it and sit on top of it for 5 seconds. The strongest bridge built that day could hold 20 reams of paper – that’s 100lbs!


Being Inspired While Inspiring Others

During our presentation, John and I spent the first ten minutes introducing the students to Bogobrush and sharing our own journeys from high school to present. We told them that for us, leadership is not a product of a job or role, but a lifestyle to be challenged intellectually, physically, and geographically, to question social social norms, and be true to what feels right to you. The remaining 45 minutes of our presentation we opened up for questions. We were amazed at the level of thought these students had about business, and we had a blast talking with them.


“Almost Like a Different Universe”

Following our presentation, we participated in a pep rally of sorts with all the students. We did cheers about beans and hiking in the woods, and even “made” a thunderstorm inside. Later that night was their dance, which was movie themed, so they all were to dress up like their favorite movie character – hence the costumes.


As we were driving back to our hometown, we reflected on the day. John commented it was “almost like a different universe.” And it was. Every student was fully engaged, and totally adapted to being outside of their comfort zones.

Congrats, NDLS. We are proud and honored to have been part of it.


What inspires Bogobrush designer and co-founder, John McDougall? Surprise.

peel lamp

The clever design of the Peel Lamp, by YOY, creates a sense of curiosity and surprise in a simple package.  It makes you rethink the boundaries of your space, and suggests the idea of something intriguing beyond your walls.

peel lamp 3

Last weekend, David and I flew to Utah to bring Bogobrush to the first annual Green Dentistry Conference, held at the Sundance Resort (you know, Robert Redford’s resort, that film festival resort, up in the mountains!) I hadn’t been there before, so it was especially cool to me…and Bogobrush was a hit, of course, which made the experience even better.

Anyway, here is a photo journal of the trip. Enjoy!

Traveling from MSP to SLC

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We left Minnesota to its May 2nd blizzard, and flew into the sunny Salt Lake Valley. After the flight, we drove an hour through the city and into the mountains before arriving at the resort.

Sundance Resort

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The Sundance Resort is nestled in the mountains, and at each turn is a reminder of the land’s true essence. The buildings are all made from reclaimed wood, and there are touches of old western life all around. There’s even a little general store – the Hot Damn Pickles really were damn hot, but also damn awesome.

The Conference

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The conference was two days of networking, education, food, and fun.  Ina Pockrass, The Eco-Dentistry Association’s co-founder, and her small team of two great gals brought in several presenters who spoke about everything from high tech dentistry, to meditation, to marketing a dental practice as “green.” In a world like dentistry, where infection control and material efficacy are crucial to a practice’s success – both in the eyes of patients and government regulation – a perfectly“green” dental practice is not possible right now, however, if dental practices make the best choices they can, the needle can continue to point in a greener direction.

Beginning of Beautiful Friendships

eco dentistry heather 2

For Bogobrush, the conference was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the interests of dental practices, and to begin new collaborations with dentists and their communities. Specifically, plans are in the works with a practice from Pittsburgh and with a practice outside Portland, Maine. More details are sure to follow!

Last Day: Our Morning Hike

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Of course, we couldn’t leave Sundance without taking advantage of some amazing hikes. These photos are from our hike to Stewart Falls. We saw plenty of wildlife and beautiful scenery and also enjoyed some great conversation. My dad, (remember? he’s a dentist,) was an attendee at the conference, so we got to spend some quality time with him, too!

If you’d like to learn more about The Eco Dentistry Association, click here.


Startup Weekend Fargo, March 2013

Startup Weekend is one of the world’s leading catalysts for startup creation and entrepreneurship education.  The model is simple: gather entrepreneurial minded-folks to pitch, build, and present brand new businesses…all within 54 hours.  They call it “experiential learning.”  Startup Weekends happen all over the world, and have inspired more than 30,000 individuals so far.

Needless to say, I was pretty honored that they asked me to be the opening presenter for Startup Weekend Fargo.

To serve as inspiration for the attendees, I spoke about entrepreneurship as a vehicle for solving problems through business.  Specifically, I talked about how Bogobrush is designed to solve several problems: toothbrush design problems, environmental problems, and social problems.  Our goal is to make the world a better, more balanced place, and Bogobrush is a tool to help us achieve that.  I really had a blast presenting to the group, and from what I could tell, the group enjoyed an inside view of our team’s inspiration and motivation.

After I spoke, more than 30 ideas were pitched and voted on by the 70 attendees in order to narrow the list down to a handful of projects that would become the focus of the weekend.

From that point, the attendees formed teams, and worked almost non-stop the remaining two nights and two days.

The weekend concluded with a final event at the Fargo Theatre – a super cool, art deco theater, complete with organist and all!


To open the final event, entrepreneur Phil Soran spoke to the audience about his experiences from beginning as a middle school teacher to starting two tech companies that were eventually sold for a total of nearly $1.5 billion dollars.  His story was definitely the inspiration to keep moving an idea forward, because big things do happen when you keep working for it.

After all of the presentations were complete, the winning teams received Startup Weekend beakers.

Of course, I’m sure winning was great, but to me it seemed that the real goal was to provide an opportunity for entrepreneurial hopefuls to learn the nitty gritty of what it takes to start a business. While it may be unrealistic to truly build a working business in a weekend, I’d have to say it seemed like fun was definitely had by all. :) I know I’m glad that I was there to see it.

Thanks so much to J. Alan Paul Photography for the beautiful photos! For more information on Startup Weekend, check it out on Facebook.




The Forward on Climate Rally was billed as the largest climate rally in US history,  and with an estimated 50,000 strong marching in solidarity, urging our government to take action on climate change,  it easily lived up to its billing.

525 miles to go - DC, here comes Bogobrush!

only 525 miles to DC!

Political rallies were new territory for me, but I felt it was important as a part of Bogobrush, and as a citizen to speak up for our planet, so I hopped on a bus from Detroit bound for D.C.


in a sea of 50,000 rally-goers


 I witnessed people from all over the country; Activists, Scientists, Celebrities, Politicians, both conservative and liberal joining together with an energy that was optimistic and overwhelming.   We didn’t all agree on every point, but we stood together in support of a larger mission.  I still have chants of “Hey, Obama…We don’t want no climate drama!” stuck in my head, and hopefully they will be stuck in the minds of our leaders in Washington and around the world as well.



I am proud to be a part of a company that isn’t sitting on the sidelines, but working every day to prove that environmental and social values can coexist and drive true economic value.


What inspires Bogobrush designer and co-founder, John McDougall?Minimalism.

playing cards

“Minimalism to me means finding the essence of what a product wants to be. Many designs express a minimal aesthetic, but ignore the functional soul of the object itself. This deck of cards by Joe Doucet is a perfect example of a simple product, honestly reflecting its essence.
The toothbrush world has been putting out an endless excrement of product that ignores the scientific reality that complex bristle patterns, grips, and motors simply do not improve efficacy in any large or measurable way. We like to think that Bogobrush is the essence of what a toothbrush wants to be. Nothing less, nothing more.”

On December 3rd, Bogobrush began the Giving Challenge, a friendly competition between its launch markets of Detroit, Atlanta, and Minnesota to see which region can give the most toothbrushes to people in need this holiday season.

We couldn’t be more excited to wrap up this competition with our fellow give partner, Covenant Community Care, at our Holiday Giving Party on Friday, December 14th, from 7pm-Midnight at Ponyride in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

Started by Detroiter, Phil Cooley, who Vice Magazine named one of “the most interesting men in the world,” among other honors, Ponyride is a space for socially-conscious artists and entrepreneurs to work and share knowledge, resources and networks.  Ponyride really captures the spirit of Detroit and Bogobrush, and the Bogobrush team owes a huge “THANK YOU(!!!!)” to Phil and the Ponyride team!  To get a better idea about ponyride check out Vice Magazine’s interview with Phil Cooley.

The winner of the Giving Challenge will be announced at 9:00pm.  If you’re in the Detroit area, please join us for a night of free beer, food, music, and of course, Bogobrushes!  We promise it’ll be fun :)

For more information on Ponyride, please visit:




Details:  “Inspiration can come from every little detail.  Looking at the Lumina 800, most probably see a phone, some notice a nice speaker opening, but at Bogobrush, we see a bristle pattern.”

PLAY: “This simple radio encourages play and interaction by activating when the cork is removed.  It is a delightful and instinctual execution.”


November 19, 2012


LAST SATURDAY, Bogobrush teamed up with The Walker Art Center Gift Shopin Minneapolis for a simple, but wildly fun and inspiring event at Mary’s Place at Sharing and Caring Hands. 

At 10am, the announcement went out over the intercom systems at Sharing and Caring Hands:  “Anyone who signed up for the T-shirt Art Project can head down the the community room!”  Moments later, the project was overflowing with kids.  That previous Thursday, we had 50 kids sign up, and on Saturday, the 75 t-shirts we brought flew onto the painting tables like hot-cakes!  All tolled:  the estimated eighty kids, four adults,  LOTS of paint and markers, rousing games of bingo – well, we played “BRUSH,” –  and stickers created an unforgettable two hours of self-expression and community.

Mary’s Place is an amazing facility within the Sharing and Caring Hands organization, that provides food, shelter, healthcare, training, structure, and safety to over 90 families at any given time.  Depending on the week, there could be more than 400 kids living at Mary’s Place.  The founder, Mary Jo, is a spunky gal, who has been around for over 80 years, inspires everyone to live fully and happily.

From our first meeting with Sharing and Caring Hands and Mary’s Place in December 2011, we knew we wanted to connect in its community and do our part to make a positive impact.  So, we initiated this t-shirt art project as our introduction to the community – afterall, we can be involved in many ways even before we have toothbrushes to give:)

OUR FOUR VOLUNTEERS for the project:  Michele Tobin, a friend of Bogobrush and Director from the Walker Gift Shop,  Andrew Gaylord, a St. Paul teacher and Bogobrush supporter, Heather, Bogobrush CEO and David, Bogobrush Director of Finance, were there were there on behalf of Bogobrush.

Michele brought her experience as an art teacher, and an amazingly generous amount of art supplies for the kids to use from the Walker’s education department.  Andrew shared his ability to connect with kids personally, engaging them into conversation and curiosity.  Together, we were able to provide not only an art experience, but a community experience – exposing them to art, oral health, education, and fun.


MORE THAN ANYTHING, this experience validates that Bogobrush does much more than simply give a toothbrush to someone in need, and that a toothbrush company can help grow communities and provide experiences that will encourage and empower everyone to be healthier for themselves and for the world.  Bogobrush is the little toothbrush that could, and together, we’ll make a big difference, one toothbrush at a time.

Let’s give toothbrushes to these kids, they really deserve it.  Simply head to ourshop to get your give on!

For more photos check out our Facebook Album.

- Heather

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